Crafts made with holiday spirit


John Leahey

Workshop attendees browse the wide array of craft supplies.

John Leahey, Assistant Community Editor

The holiday season is upon us, and many people are gearing up to give gifts to their loved ones. With many focused on getting just the right gift, the wrapping for the gifts can get glossed over. The Handmade for the Holidays event sought to solve this issue by having attendees design and decorate their own holiday-themed gift bags and tags. The workshop was held at Irvin L. Young Memorial Library.

“It’s something to give people a little extra help with holiday gifts,” said organizer of the event, Sarah French.

Workshop attendees design and decorate their custom holiday gift bags.
(John Leahey)

French is the programming and makerspace librarian at the Memorial Library. She organizes most of the library’s events, and her duties include planning, budgeting, marketing, graphic design and more.

The Bags & Tags event is the first in a series of three free to attend workshops she will hold, the second two being a Bath Bomb workshop and a Tile Coaster workshop later this month.

“I like to promote doing something handmade rather than just overconsumption and consumerism,” French said. 

She also said she hopes to provide a bonding experience for family members, as well as make people’s gift giving experience less stressful.

The event boasted a wide array of holiday-themed crafts materials which were used by attendees of a diverse age range. With jingle bells, patterned tape, colored yarn, foam ornaments, paints, stamps and more, guests were able to personalize their bags to a great degree. In addition to these, attendees had tag punchers and holiday cards to make tags that went with their bags.

“I was an art major,” said French, “so I really like getting out a ton of materials and then letting people be creative and not telling anyone to do it any one way. It’s about using imagination.”

The attendees seemed to enjoy themselves as well. With a variety of materials to choose from, no two bags looked alike.

“I like doing these kinds of things,” said attendee Janet Olson. “The advantage of something like this is that you have all different kinds of materials you don’t have at home,” she said. “So, it’s a nice opportunity for people to come and try different things.”

While French did come up with the idea for this event series, many of the library’s events are suggested by community members, something she greatly welcomes and encourages.

“I love it when community members come to me with ideas,” French said, “because then [the library] can help facilitate and make it happen, and that goes for university students, too.”

This is the first time French has hosted this event series, but if all goes well and it garners a good attendance, she hopes to make the series an annual occasion. Above all, French puts an importance on approachability and cooperation with these events.

“My main mission is to offer something that is free and accessible for the public that is very inclusive and open to everybody,” said French. “I want people to take something away from the program.”

The two following events in the Handmade for Holidays series will be a Bath Bomb workshop Dec. 13, and a Tile Coaster workshop Dec. 20. Both of these events are also free to attend and will be held at the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library. For more information about these events and others, visit the library’s event calendar here.